Deming, Juran and the quality movement
At PGS, we are indebted to some great leaders in organizational theory for their influence on the products and processes we offer to our clients. For the next several blog posts, we want to highlight some of the people whose work has so strongly impacted our own. With each post we will also pass on a couple ideas you can begin using to bring some of their work into your own organization.
To start the series, we want to focus on the work of two men, actually, and their influence on the Quality movement, which gained steam in the US during the last half of the 20th century. The two men whose work influenced our own products and processes here at PGS are W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran. I encourage you to “google” them if you aren’t already familiar with their work.
Deming and Juran taught that inefficient, poor quality processes rob the employee of pride of workmanship, rob the product of high quality and rob the customer of a satisfying exchange. Deming never found an organization with less than 20% waste. Our own experience is that the waste factor is higher than that. This holds true regardless of whether you are in the public sector or private, manufacturing or a service industry.
The impact of their work in Quality can best be seen at PGS in our process improvement product, Process Advantage®. We view the organizations we work with as a team of individuals connected by communication lines who exchange work products with one another, the end result of which is a product or service that adds value to client/customer. These series of exchanges are called processes, e.g. purchasing, employee training, manufacturing, patient diagnosis and treatment etc. The sum of the interdependent processes in an organization make up a system, which is the organization itself. The vast majority of employees want to do a good job – but can only “get what the system will deliver”, i.e., can only produce the best that the process they work in will allow. This belief is a core part of the Quality theory.
It was Deming’s strongly held belief that if you want to improve performance, rather than focus on finding better employees, improve your processes, as that is what limits the ability of your employees to perform.
Quality in steps
We implement the theories of Deming and Juran in Process Advantage® by coaching our clients through the following:
- Flowcharting to help break down a process into its individual steps,
- Collecting data on the existing process,
- Identifying waste: unnecessary steps, rework or glitches in the system,
- And finally, creating a better, higher quality process, with measures in place to confirm and continue the improvements.
Steps 1 and 2 make the case for re-designing the process and overcome any resistance to change. Steps 3 and 4 enable those involved in the process to design and implement a better solution.
Here’s what you can do
What steps would we encourage you to take to put a bit of the work of Deming and Juran into your workplace?
- Examine your organization through a new lens. Rather than looking at individual employees and their performance, identify and evaluate the performance of processes that employees are using to get their work done. Inquire as to where there is waste (e.g. errors, duplication of work, unnecessary work) in those processes. Looking at the data, determine what that waste is costing you and what a solution to that waste would be worth. Flowcharting your processes can be a great means of accomplishing this. If you are unfamiliar with how to create a flowchart, I would be happy to send you a worksheet we use to explain the tool in our flowcharting class, or to talk to you about bringing the ½ day workshop to your organization. Send me an e-mail if you are interested in either one.
- Identify the internal customer. This, too, is a simple concept that can have a big impact when understood. The internal customer is the person or department within the organization that receives the product of your work. Although the external customer or end user is always kept in mind, you need to ask yourself “who do I pass my work onto internally? What do they need from me in order to do their best before passing their product on to their internal customer?” Have you ever asked? Identifying the series internal customers in a process and their needs is essential to creating a good external customer experience
Questions or thoughts? We would love to hear from you. Send us an e-mail to join the conversation.